SHORE THING: Where’s Cape Charles’ Nude Beach?

Reserved parking sticker on vehicle parked in downtown Cape Charles. (Wave photo)

Cape Charles Wave

October 24, 2012

Yesterday was the reason I moved to Cape Charles.

Walking out on the fishing pier, feeling the not-too-hot sun and the not-too-strong breeze on my face, gazing at the beach at low tide, smelling the sea air, hearing the gentle ripples of the waves — it was just perfect.

And almost no one was around. But rather than luxuriate in the solitude, I felt a sudden sadness that more people were not out at the beach to appreciate the perfect day.

Perhaps it was the decades of office confinement tugging at my conscience — I wanted to share the ecstasy of freedom to enjoy nature.

Actually, I was not alone. As I had walked up the boardwalk toward the pier I had noticed a car with Pennsylvania plates slowing down to parallel park.

And as I walked out on the pier I passed two elderly women. The older woman looked vaguely familiar. Perhaps I had met her before. I couldn’t remember. With a sudden pang I realized that very old women often look very much alike.

I leaned over the railing, gazing at the sand flats at low tide. From a distance, walking in the shallows, came two spectacular specimens of youthful beauty.

There I stood, leaning over the railing. I was invisible to the blonde Venuses below me, which I have become used to. Age is often invisible to youth. But I also seemed to be invisible to the old women on the pier, whose conversation was loud enough to overhear but spoken as if I was not there.

Youth and Age — and I stood between the two. The girls approaching me might be nearly 40 years’ my junior, while one of the women on the pier, I soon learned, was nearly 40 years’ my senior.


The younger a person is, the more likely we are to ask, “how old is she?” Twelve weeks. Six months. Two.

And on the other end of the scale, the older a person grows, the more likely she is to reveal her age. “I’m turning 100,” announced the old woman on the pier.

She didn’t say it to me. Another woman, the one from Pennsylvania, had approached and struck up a conversation.

And so I became an eavesdropper, in plain view but invisible to all.

“This is our first time in Cape Charles,” announced Ms. Pennsylvania. “Do you live here?” The two women replied in the affirmative, with Ms. 100 adding that she had lived in Cape Charles all her life.

“Is it very crowded in the summertime?” I missed the answer. I wasn’t that close, and couldn’t hear everything they said.

“I read in a magazine that Cape Charles has a new beach. Where is it?”

A new beach.  I wondered — is she talking about the Bay Creek resort? I guess you could call that a new beach.

And then — gales of laughter. I only caught bits and pieces of the conversation between the cackles.

“I just want to know where it is so I don’t go there by mistake — HA HA HEE HEE.”

“HA HA HA HEE HEE — flapping all around — that’s not for me HA HA HA.”

Staccato bursts of  “HYUNK HYUNK — a nude beach — HEE HEE HA HA.”

I got it. I briefly considered informing Ms. Pennsylvania that the Cape Charles Nude Beach, with reserved parking for cars with the right sticker, was just a joke. But then I remembered that I wasn’t part of this conversation. This was girl talk, and I was invisible.

Still leaning over the railing, feeling the sun, I noticed that the girls on the beach had walked way out beside the pier, farther out than I had ever seen anyone able to walk on the sand. The tide was extremely low.

It was so warm that one of the girls had removed her shirt. I could see that.

But the rest was invisible.

SHORE THING is an occasional feature of the Cape Charles Wave.




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